Whole Brain Emulation

TagLast edit: 1 Oct 2020 0:02 UTC by Swimmer963

Whole Brain Emulation or WBE is a proposed technique which involves transferring the information contained within a brain onto a computing substrate. The brain can then be simulated, creating a machine intelligence. The concept is often discussed in context of scanning the brain of a person, known as mind uploading.

WBE is sometimes seen as an easy way to creating intelligent computers, as the only innovations necessary are greatly increased processor speed and scanning resolution. Advocates of WBE claim technological improvement rates such as Moore’s law will make WBE inevitable.

The exact level of detail required for an accurate simulation of a brain’s mind is presently uncertain, and will determine the difficulty of creating WBE. The feasibility of such a project has been examined in detail in Future of Humanity Institute’s Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap. The Roadmap concluded that a human brain emulation would be possible before mid-century, providing that current technology trends kept up and providing that there would be sufficient investments.

Several approaches for WBE have been suggested:

A digitally emulated brain could have several advantages over a biological one5. It might be able to run faster than biological brains, copy itself, and take advantage of backups while experimenting with self-modification.

Whole brain emulation will also create a number of ethical challenges relating to the nature of personhood, rights, and social inequality. Robin Hanson proposes that an uploaded mind might copy itself to work until the cost of running a copy was that of its labour, vastly increasing the amount of wealth in the world but also causing mass unemployment6. The ability to copy uploads could also lead to drastic changes in society’s values, with the values of the uploads that got copied the most coming to dominate.

An emulated-brain populated world could hold severe negative consequences, such as:

See Also

External Links


  1. Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap

  2. Strout, J. Uploading by the Nanoreplacement Procedure. http://​​​​jstrout/​​uploading/​​nanoreplacement.html

  3. Sotala, K., & Valpola, H. (2012). Coalescing minds: brain uploading-related group mind scenarios. International Journal of Machine Consciousness, 4(01), 293-312. http://​​​​files/​​CoalescingMinds.pdf

  4. ROTHBLATT, M. (2012). THE TERASEM MIND UPLOADING EXPERIMENT. International Journal of Machine Consciousness, 4(01), 141-158. http://​​​​docs/​​Terasem%20Mind%20Uploading%20Experiment%20IJMC.pdf

  5. Sotala, K. (2012). Advantages of artificial intelligences, uploads, and digital minds. International Journal of Machine Consciousness, 4(01), 275-291. http://​​​​files/​​AdvantagesOfAIs.pdf

  6. Hanson, R. (1994). If uploads come first. Extropy, 6(2), 10-15. http://​​​​uploads.html

  7. LUCAS, John. (1961) Minds, machines, and Gödel, Philosophy, 36, pp. 112–127

  8. DREYFUS, H. (1972) What Computers Can’t Do, New York: Harper & Row.

  9. PENROSE, Roger (1994) Shadows of the Mind, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  10. BLOCK, Ned (1981) Psychologism and behaviorism, Philosophical Review, 90, pp. 5–43.

  11. BOSTROM, Nick.(2004) “The future of human evolution”. Death and Anti‐Death: Two Hundred Years After Kant, Fifty Years After Turing, ed. Charles Tandy (Ria University Press: Palo Alto, California, 2004): pp. 339‐371. Available at: http://​​​​fut/​​evolution.pdf

Whole Brain Emu­la­tion: Look­ing At Progress On C. elgans

jefftk29 Oct 2011 15:21 UTC
59 points
82 comments2 min readLW link

Whole Brain Emu­la­tion & DL: imi­ta­tion learn­ing for faster AGI?

gwern22 Oct 2018 15:07 UTC
15 points
0 comments1 min readLW link

[link] Whole Brain Emu­la­tion and the Evolu­tion of Superorganisms

Wei_Dai3 May 2011 23:38 UTC
25 points
8 comments1 min readLW link

Might whole brain em­u­la­tion re­quire quan­tum-level em­u­la­tion?

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16 points
15 comments1 min readLW link

Su­per­in­tel­li­gence via whole brain emulation

AlexMennen17 Aug 2016 4:11 UTC
14 points
33 comments3 min readLW link

Against WBE (Whole Brain Emu­la­tion)

Curiouskid27 Nov 2011 14:42 UTC
−3 points
32 comments2 min readLW link

The im­pact of whole brain emulation

jefftk14 May 2013 19:59 UTC
4 points
34 comments2 min readLW link

PZ My­ers on the In­fea­si­bil­ity of Whole Brain Emulation

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17 points
59 comments2 min readLW link

Hedg­ing our Bets: The Case for Pur­su­ing Whole Brain Emu­la­tion to Safe­guard Hu­man­ity’s Future

inklesspen1 Mar 2010 2:32 UTC
14 points
248 comments3 min readLW link

[LINK] Robin Han­son on Carl Shul­man’s re­cent pa­per on Whole Brain Emulation

Alexandros5 Oct 2011 7:51 UTC
20 points
9 comments1 min readLW link

Brain em­u­la­tions and Or­a­cle AI

Stuart_Armstrong14 Oct 2011 17:51 UTC
10 points
5 comments1 min readLW link

“Mis­be­hav­ing Machines: The Emu­lated Brains of Tran­shu­man­ist Dreams”, Corry Shores

gwern29 Dec 2011 22:33 UTC
16 points
4 comments15 min readLW link

an eth­i­cal puz­zle about brain emulation

asr13 Dec 2013 21:53 UTC
21 points
57 comments2 min readLW link

[SEQ RERUN] Brain Emu­la­tion and Hard Takeoff

MinibearRex14 Nov 2012 6:47 UTC
4 points
5 comments1 min readLW link

[Question] Would a halfway copied brain em­u­la­tion be at risk of hav­ing differ­ent val­ues/​iden­tity?

Ghatanathoah30 Jul 2020 5:43 UTC
9 points
8 comments2 min readLW link

Ethics of Brain Emulation

summerstay4 Dec 2013 19:19 UTC
2 points
32 comments1 min readLW link

Brain-cen­tred­ness and mind uploading

gedymin2 Jan 2015 12:23 UTC
24 points
2 comments3 min readLW link

New WBE implementation

Louie30 Nov 2012 11:16 UTC
27 points
7 comments1 min readLW link

Chat­bots or set an­swers, not WBEs

Stuart_Armstrong8 Sep 2015 17:17 UTC
8 points
9 comments1 min readLW link

Chat­bots or set an­swers, not WBEs

Stuart_Armstrong9 Oct 2015 15:48 UTC
2 points
0 comments1 min readLW link

[Question] What in­for­ma­tion, apart from the con­nec­tome, is nec­es­sary to simu­late a brain?

Richard_Ngo20 Mar 2020 2:03 UTC
17 points
5 comments1 min readLW link
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